|Publication number||US8136788 B2|
|Application number||US 12/585,042|
|Publication date||Mar 20, 2012|
|Filing date||Sep 1, 2009|
|Priority date||Sep 1, 2008|
|Also published as||CN101666393A, CN101666393B, EP2159462A1, EP2159462B1, US20100051848|
|Publication number||12585042, 585042, US 8136788 B2, US 8136788B2, US-B2-8136788, US8136788 B2, US8136788B2|
|Original Assignee||Siemens Aktiengesellschaft|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (24), Classifications (25), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is based on and hereby claims priority to European Patent Application No. 08015393 filed on Sep. 1, 2008, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
In the technical field of actuator controlled valves and a mechanical connection between a valve and a valve controlling actuator, described below is a coupling element for connecting an actuator to a valve in an actuator system for controlling the valve. Also described are a valve system, which includes the valve and the actuator system, and a method for connecting such a coupling element to an actuator.
It is known to regulate the temperature of rooms within a building by an actuator, which is connected to a valve controlling the flow rate through the interior of a radiator. Typically, the corresponding flow medium is hot water. When the hot water flows through the radiator, it transfers thermal energy to the radiator.
For controlling the position of radiator valves in particular electromechanical actuators are used. A correct operation of such a valve system having an actuator and a radiator valve relies on a stable mechanical connection between the actuator and the valve. Such a connection is usually established by a coupling element. Typically the coupling element is connected to the actuator in a non-detachable but rotatable manner. In the following an assembly that includes the actuator and the coupling element connected to the actuator will be referred to as an actuator system.
The coupling element may be a nut having an inner thread, which is suitable for engaging with an outer thread respectively a male thread of a valve body. Therefore, when mounting the actuator system to the valve body the nut has to be rotated at least with respect to the valve body.
When assembling the actuator system the nut has to be kept exactly in the axial position of the actuator. In order to provide for a rotatable connection between the nut and the actuator it is known to use plastic snapping hook elements being formed at the actuator in order to grip into a groove of the nut. Such hook elements typically allow for an easy assembling procedure for the actuator system. However, hook elements have the disadvantage that they can brake easily if the nut is tighten too hard.
Siemens Building Technologies introduced a much more stable solution for mechanically connecting a nut to a valve body. In the data sheet 4893 describing Electrical Actuators SSA31 . . . , SSA81 . . . and SSA61 . . . for radiator valves VDN . . . , VEN . . . , VUN . . . , VPD . . . and VPE . . . , CE1N4893en, dated Feb. 23, 2005 (see www.sbt.siemens.ru/files/13093.pdf, there are disclosed electrical actuator systems having a wire situated between an annular grove of the nut and a grove of an actuator neck. The disadvantage of this solution is the complicated manufacturing process. The first pass yield is too low and an automatic assembly of corresponding actuator systems is hardly possible.
There may be a need for providing a simple but mechanically stable connection between an actuator and a valve.
According to a first aspect there is provided a coupling element for connecting an actuator to a valve, in particular for connecting an electrical actuator to a valve for controlling the operation of a radiator. The described coupling element includes (a) a first interface, which is adapted to mechanically connect the coupling element to the actuator, (b) a second interface, which is adapted to mechanically connect the coupling element to the valve, and (c) a deformable portion, which is shaped in such a manner, that, as a result of a compression along an axial direction of the coupling element, the deformable portion irreversibly bends such that a projection is formed. Thereby, the projection upraises from a side wall of the coupling element. Further, the projection is adapted to permanently engage with an annular groove being formed at the actuator such that the coupling element and the actuator are connected with each other in a non-detachable but rotatable manner.
The described coupling element is based on the idea that by purposeful deforming the deformable portion a projection can be formed, which is adapted to engage with the actuator respectively with an annular groove of the actuator. Thereby, a non-detachable but rotatable connection between the coupling element and the actuator will be established.
The described coupling element may provide the advantage that the production process of an actuator system, which can be connected to a valve body and which is capable of controlling the corresponding valve can be simplified. The production process includes mounting an appropriate coupling element to the actuator in a non-detachable but rotatable manner. Using the described second interface the coupling element can be mechanically connected to the valve.
For compressing the coupling element an appropriate tool such as a gripper or a crimper can be used.
The described side wall may be any inner or outer wall of the coupling element, which is oriented parallel to the axial direction. The axial direction may be defined by an axis, which represents a symmetry axis of the coupling element. In this respect the symmetry may an at least partially realized rotational and/or an axial symmetry.
The valve may be any device which is capable of controlling the flow rate of a liquid or gaseous medium. In particular, the valve may be a stroke valve, wherein the flow rate can be controlled simply be adjusting the position of a stroke, a plunger or a valve lifter.
According to an embodiment the coupling element further includes a central opening, which extends around a symmetry axis of the coupling element and which provides for a passage between the actuator and the valve.
The described central opening may provide the advantage that the actuator will be able to control a position of the valve in a usual manner. Thereby, for instance a pusher element can move through the central opening. The pusher element may be assigned to the actuator or to the valve.
According to a further embodiment the projection upraises inwardly into the central opening of the coupling element.
The described bending of the deformable portion towards the symmetry axis may provide the advantage that the projection will not be seen from the outside. This means that the coupling element can be realized without outer corners and/or outer ridges, which might cause a skin lesion to a person who is disregardful handling the coupling element. This holds both (a) for the described compression procedure resulting in the non-detachable but rotatable mechanical connection between the coupling element and the actuator and (b) for an attachment coupling procedure wherein the actuator together with the coupling element is attached to the valve.
According to a further embodiment the deformable portion extends along a circumference of the coupling element.
The deformable portion may extend substantially along the whole or at least along substantial the whole circumference of the coupling element. This may provide the advantage that the projection resulting from the described compression procedure engages not only at one or more selective circumferential regions but along at least substantial the whole circumference into the annular groove.
According to a further embodiment the second interface has a thread, which is adapted to connect to a complementary thread being formed at the valve. This may provide the advantage that the coupling element and with the coupling element also the actuator can easily be mounted to the valve. By screwing the coupling element into or onto the complementary thread of the valve the spatial distance between the actuator and the valve can be precisely adjusted.
According to a further embodiment the thread is an inner thread being adapted to engage with an outer thread being formed at valve. This may provide the advantage that the coupling element can have the general shape of a nut, which may be for instance a coupling nut. The nut may have an outer contour which can act together with a usual mechanical tool. The outer contour may have for instance a hexagonal shape and the mechanical tool may be for instance an open-end wrench. Of course also other outer contours may be used conveniently screwing the coupling element onto the complementary thread of the valve.
According to a further embodiment along the axial direction of the coupling element the deformable portion is located between the first interface and the second interface. This may provide the advantage that in the connected state the annular groove will be completely covered by the coupling element. Further, both in the uncompressed and in the compressed state, the coupling element may be realized with a comparatively smooth outer surface.
According to a further embodiment the deformable portion is a thin wall of the coupling element. In this respect the term “thin wall” means that the thickness of the wall is smaller than the thickness of the body of the coupling element. Thereby, the thickness is measured in a direction perpendicular to the symmetry axis of the coupling element.
The described thin wall may provide the advantage that the coupling element can be formed integrally by a single piece of material. The material may be in particular metal. However, also other materials such as for instance plastic can be used for manufacturing the described coupling element.
According to a further embodiment along the axial direction of the coupling element the deformable portion is located at an end of the coupling element. In this case, the compression of the coupling element may result in a brim and/or in a shoulder engaging into the annular groove of the valve.
According to a further aspect there is provided an actuator system for controlling a valve, in particular a valve for controlling the operation of a radiator. The described actuator system includes (a) an actuator and (b) a coupling element according to any one of the embodiments described above.
The described actuator system is based on the idea that by compressing the coupling element along its axial direction a non-detachable but rotatable connection between the coupling element and the actuator can be established in an effective manner. Of course, during the compressing procedure the coupling element and the actuator have to be arranged in a suitable spatial position with respect to each other.
According to a further embodiment the actuator has a neck portion having the annular groove, which is adapted to receive the projection formed from the deformable portion of the coupling element.
The neck portion may represent an intermediate component of the actuator which may allow that the coupling element can be easily connected to the actuator. It has to be mentioned that also the neck portion may have a central opening allowing that the actuator will be able to mechanically connect to the valve for instance by a pusher element move through the central opening.
According to a further embodiment the neck portion is a flange, which is adapted to connect to the coupling element. The flange may include the above described annular groove. The annular groove may extend along the whole or at least along substantially the whole circumference of the flange.
According to a further aspect there is provided a valve system. In particular there is provides a valve system for controlling the operation of a radiator. The provided valve system includes (a) an actuator, and (b) a valve. Thereby, the actuator and the valve are connected by a coupling element as described above.
Also the described valve system is based on the idea that by compressing the coupling element along its axial direction a non-detachable but rotatable and stable connection between the coupling element and the actuator can be established in an effective manner. Further, the coupling element and the valve can be mechanically connected to each other in a known manner such as for instance by complementary threads being formed at the coupling element and at the valve.
According to a further aspect there is provided a method for connecting a coupling element to an actuator. In particular there is provided a method for connecting a coupling element as described above to an electrical actuator. The provided method includes (a) bringing together the coupling element and the actuator, (b) compressing the coupling element along an axial direction of the coupling element, and (c) bending a deformable portion of the coupling element in an irreversible manner such that a projection upraising from a side wall of the coupling element is formed. Thereby, the projection permanently engages with an annular groove being formed at the actuator such that the coupling element and the actuator are connected with each other in a non-detachable but rotatable manner.
The described method is based on the idea that by simply bending the deformable portion of the coupling element a non-detachable but rotatable and stable connection between the coupling element and the actuator can be established by a very simple mechanical procedure. This procedure, which may result in a very reliable mechanical connection, can contribute to a simplified and cost effective manufacturing procedure of actuator systems, which are suitable for being connected to and for controlling a valve. The valve may be in particular a valve for controlling the operation of a radiator by regulating the flow rate of a liquid flowing through the interior of the radiator.
It has to be noted that embodiments have been described with reference to different subject matters. In particular, some embodiments have been described with reference to an apparatus whereas other embodiments have been described with reference to a method. However, a person skilled in the art will gather from the above and the following description that, unless other notified, in addition to any combination of features belonging to one type of subject matter also any combination between features relating to different subject matters, in particular between features of the apparatus and features of the method is considered as to be disclosed by this specification.
These and further aspects and advantages will become more apparent and more readily appreciated from the exemplary embodiments described hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings of which:
Reference will now be made in detail to the preferred embodiments, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements throughout.
The illustration in the drawing is schematically. It is noted that in different figures, similar or identical elements are provided with the same reference signs or with reference signs, which are different from the corresponding reference signs only within the first digit.
According to the embodiment described here the coupling element is a nut 100 having a symmetry axis 101. The nut 100 has a body 102 formed around the symmetry axis 101. A central opening 104 is formed within the body 102. A side wall 103 having substantially the shape of the side area of a cylinder defines the central opening 104. The outer lateral surface of the nut 100 has a hexagonal shape such that the nut 100 can be rotated, for instance, by an appropriate open-end wrench.
The nut 100 further has a first interface 110. As will be described below with reference to
The nut 100 further has a second interface 120. The second interface 120 includes an inner thread 122. As will be described below with reference to
The nut 100 further includes a deformable portion 130. According to the embodiment described here the deformable portion is a thin wall 130. The thin wall is formed in such a manner, that a compression of the nut 100 along an axial direction parallel to the symmetry axis 101 causes an irreversible bending of the deformable portion 130 such that a projection is formed.
As can be seen from
As can be further seen from
According to the embodiment described here the valve is connected to the nut 100 by an outer thread 172 being assigned to the valve 170. By screwing the nut 100 onto the outer thread 172 of the valve the spatial distance between the actuator 150 and the valve 170 can be precisely adjusted.
For connecting the nut 100 and the actuator 150 in a non-detachable but rotatable manner the nut 100 gets slide over the end portion of the actuator neck 152. Then a not depicted press device grips the upper and the lower surface of the nut 100 and squeezes it. Thereby, the projection 130 a is formed because of the local plastically deformation of the nut 100. The projection 130 a engages into the annular groove 154 of the actuator neck 152 resulting in an irreversible and stable mechanical connection. This manufacturing process, which can be automated with a high first pass yield, provides a stable contact surface to take the axial load of the nut 100.
Because of the projection 130 a and the groove 154 extending around the whole circumference of the flange 152, the nut 100 cannot be tilted with respect to the actuator 150. By screwing the nut 100 onto the outer thread 172 of the valve 170, the front face of the actuator neck 152 and the opposing front face of the valve portion being provided with the outer thread 172 are pressed together. Thereby, a particular stable mechanical contact between the actuator 150 and the valve 170 can be guaranteed.
The described mechanical connection procedure connecting the actuator 150 and the valve 170 can be realized in a reliable manner resulting in an improved first pass yield with respect to known coupling procedures. Thereby, the manufacturing costs for the actuator system 160 can be reduced.
The described mechanical connection further has, for instance, the following advantages:
In accordance with the coupling element 100 also the coupling element 200 has (a) a first interface 210, which is adapted to mechanically connect the coupling element 200 to the actuator 250 and (b) a second interface 220, which is adapted to mechanically connect the coupling element 200 to a valve 270. A central opening 204 is provided within the coupling element 200 such that a mechanical passage between the actuator 250 and the valve 270 is possible. An actuator system including both the actuator 250 and the coupling element 200 is indicated in
In accordance with the embodiment shown in
It should be noted that the terms “including” and “includes” do not exclude other elements or operations and “a” or “an” does not exclude a plurality. Also elements described in association with different embodiments may be combined.
The system also includes permanent or removable storage, such as magnetic and optical discs, RAM, ROM, etc. on which the process and data structures of the present invention can be stored and distributed. The processes can also be distributed via, for example, downloading over a network such as the Internet. The system can output the results to a display device, printer, readily accessible memory or another computer on a network.
A description has been provided with particular reference to preferred embodiments thereof and examples, but it will be understood that variations and modifications can be effected within the spirit and scope of the claims which may include the phrase “at least one of A, B and C” as an alternative expression that means one or more of A, B and C may be used, contrary to the holding in Superguide v. DIRECTV, 358 F3d 870, 69 USPQ2d 1865 (Fed. Cir. 2004).
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|U.S. Classification||251/129.01, 251/129.15, 285/350, 137/15.17, 29/510, 285/382, 285/280, 29/505, 251/129.11|
|Cooperative Classification||Y10T137/0486, F16K31/00, F24D19/1018, F24D19/0002, F16K31/02, F16B41/002, Y10T29/49908, F16K31/002, Y10T29/49917|
|European Classification||F16K31/00C, F16B41/00B, F16K31/00, F16K31/02, F24D19/00A, F24D19/10C2C1|
|Sep 1, 2009||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SIEMENS AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT,GERMANY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:NILHEIM, JAN;REEL/FRAME:023218/0363
Effective date: 20090826
Owner name: SIEMENS AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT, GERMANY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:NILHEIM, JAN;REEL/FRAME:023218/0363
Effective date: 20090826
|Aug 18, 2015||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Sep 4, 2015||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SIEMENS SCHWEIZ AG, SWITZERLAND
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SIEMENS AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT;REEL/FRAME:036492/0484
Effective date: 20150618